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Rijksmuseum ignores opinion of Indonesian curator

In September 2017 Bonnie Triyana stated that he considered the ‘Bersiap’: “an important story for us [Indonesians?] to know.” About the Dutch, Chinese and Indo-Dutch people that were killed in 1945: “they were non-combatant people, they were not supposed to die because of the war.” He said this in the context of a Dutch TV-report announcing the government sponsored study on 45-49. Interestingly, Bonnie Triyana at that time, did not seem to have a problem with the term yet, he also did not criticize the typical frame of ‘where two parties fight, there are two parties to blame.’ (This is the starting point of the Revolusi-exhibition too.)

On 10 January 2022 Bonnie Triyana announced (in NRC) that the Bersiap is a racist term and that the Rijksmuseum decided not to use it in their upcoming exhibition ‘Revolusi’. Many Dutch media covered this decision.

During the press conference of 11 January curator Harm Stevens was asked: “Why did you choose to avoid the term ‘Bersiap’?” He replied that by avoiding the term they were not going to ignore the Bersiap as such, he assured that they would pay sufficient attention to anti-colonial violence committed by Indonesians.

Then Hans Moll, chair person of the Federatie Indische Nederlanders (FIN, Federation of Dutch Indies people) decided to report Bonnie Triyana to the police. A few days later Museum Director Taco Dibbits, stated in an interview that he distanced himself from Bonnie Triyana, the Rijksmuseum would keep using the term ‘Bersiap’, he denied it is a racist term.

The statements by Rijksmuseum are inconsistent. It is hard to believe that they didn’t know about the content of Bonnie Triyana’s piece. It seems they changed their position out of fear of Hans Moll/FIN after he reported the Indonesian curator to the police. Conclusion: Museum Director throws Indonesian curator ‘under the bus’ out of fear to be disliked by conservative colonial-minded communities in the Netherlands.

K.U.K.B. reports Rijksmuseum to the police

Harm Stevens answers question of Histori Bersama – 1:28 min.

Online Press Conference – Rijksmuseum